You Can’t Tell the Players without a Scorecard: WNBA Edition

The WNBA season starts tonight.  My sense is that although the WNBA has many fans, there are still many more basketball fans who are not paying attention.  Perhaps one issue (and there may be more than one issue) is that many basketball fans are not familiar with the players in the WNBA.  More specifically, people may not know who is “good” or “bad”.   In sum, what might help is a scorecard (i.e. “you can’t tell the players without a scorecard!”).

The following website is essentially a “scorecard” for the 2013 season.

Wins Produced for WNBA Players in 2013  (Click through on the landing page to download data)

This webpage reports every player’s Wins Produced last season, with the players listed by team (and ranked by Wins Produced).

In addition to this webpage, here are the ten most productive players in the WNBA in 2013.

Player

Team

Wins Produced

WP40

Maya Moore Minnesota

7.82

0.293

Sylvia Fowles Chicago

7.65

0.306

Candace Parker Los Angeles

7.07

0.318

Erika de Souza Atlanta

6.65

0.262

Nneka Ogwumike Los Angeles

6.20

0.282

Diana Taurasi Phoenix

6.17

0.238

Erlana Larkins Indiana

6.13

0.240

Lindsay Whalen Minnesota

5.90

0.234

Jayne Appel San Antonio

5.51

0.287

Elena Delle Donne Chicago

5.44

0.231

To put this list in perspective, here are the All-WNBA First and Second team.

2013 ALL-WNBA FIRST TEAM
Player Team Position

Points

Maya Moore Minnesota Lynx Forward

161

Candace Parker Los Angeles Sparks Forward

119

Sylvia Fowles Chicago Sky Center

167

Diana Taurasi Phoenix Mercury Guard

162

Lindsay Whalen Minnesota Lynx Guard

143

2013 ALL-WNBA SECOND TEAM
Player Team Position

Points

Tamika Catchings Indiana Fever Forward

116

Elena Delle Donne Chicago Sky Forward

105

Tina Charles Connecticut Sun Center

52

Angel McCoughtry Atlanta Dream Guard

97

Seimone Augustus Minnesota Lynx Guard

62

Some names – like Maya Moore, Sylvia Fowles, Candace Parker, Diana Taurasi, Lindsay Whalen, and Elena Delle Donne – show up on both lists.

However, Tamika Catchings (5.29 Wins Produced), Angel McCoughtry (4.22 Wins Produced), and Seimone Augustus (2.63 Wins Produced) were productive players in 2013 but not in the top 10.

And then there is Tina Charles.  Prior to 2013, Charles was above average. But after posting an effective field goal percentage of 0.400 (well below average) in 2013, her Wins Produced plummeted.  In 2013, Charles posted a Wins Produced of -0.33.

Charles, though, did managed to average more than 19 points per game.  So although her team (Connecticut Sun) struggled in 2013, the voters still thought highly of Charles.

And in the off-season, Charles managed to force a trade to New York.  This trade led to the following observation at the WNBA website:

WNBA basketball is returning to Madison Square Garden this season and with it comes New York native and 2012 MVP Tina Charles. The former star at Christ the King High School in Queens was dealt to the Liberty on Draft day. Charles’ presence in NY instantly makes the Liberty a top contender in the East, and the double-double machine figures to mesh well with coach Bill Laimbeer of Pistons “Bad Boys” fame. Charles’ move to New York also marks the first time guard Cappie Pondexter has been teamed up with a legitimate superstar since she won two titles with Diana Taurasi in Phoenix (2007, 2009).

Like Charles, Pondexter was also below average in 2013.  So it is possible that fans of New York basketball will be disappointed by the Liberty in 2014.

This summer, Jill Harris and I will be working on research utilizing WNBA data.  So look for more stories on this league as the season progresses.

- DJ

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